Matt Vautour: These things will definitely, unquestionably, undoubtedly occur in 2018

  • Tiger Woods looks like he’s going to play golf again in 2018. Don’t pencil him in for another major win just yet. AP

  • Washington State quarterback Luke Falk watches from the sideline during the Holiday Bowl. Could he be a Patriot next year? AP

  • Texas forward Mohamed Bamba (4) could be a Boston Celtic next year. AP

  • The New England Patriots look vulnerable. Can they pull it together for a playoff run? AP

  • This is American ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson. She’ll compete in next month’s Olympics, in South Korea, an event with very few well-known competitors. AP

  • New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia watches from the sideline during Sunday against the New York Jets. There’s a good chance he’ll be coaching somebody else next season. AP

  • New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels watches from the sideline Sunday against the New York Jets. There’s a good chance he’ll be coaching somebody else next season. AP

Monday, January 01, 2018

Crystal ball time.

To be clear, mine isn’t one of those new fancy, high def, crystal balls that Best Buy was advertising specials deals for on Black Friday.

I’m still using my old one. It’s got a chord starter device that usually takes a couple pulls to catch and kicks up a lot of smoke when it does.

So take its predictions with the appropriate grains of salt.

Patriots will not make the Super Bowl – It feels dumb to pick against them. But the Bills could have beaten them. The Steelers should have beaten them. That either means this is a team of destiny or one that’s ripe to get upset.

Celtics will make the NBA finals and will draft Texas big man Mo Bamba with Lakers’ pick— They’re not good enough to beat Golden State in the finals yet, but they won’t get swept either after coming in with momentum following their win over Cleveland.

Bamba will answer some rim protection and rebounding questions.

Red Sox don’t end up with J.D. Martinez– I think Scott Boras will find somebody else to pay more. Instead Boston makes a blockbuster trade to add a bat near the deadline to fuel its successful wild card run.

At least one of Ferraro and Makar is back in Amherst in the fall – A least one of UMass’ star freshman defensemen will be back next year.

Both are making clear developmental steps, and neither seems to be in a massive rush to leave. I wouldn’t be surprised if their respective NHL organizations wanted them to spend another year in the weight room.

Final Four — Give me Michigan State over Duke in the title game.

Tiger Woods will win a tournament — It’ll be a respectable real tournament, but it won’t be a major.

UMass football – The Minutemen get bowl eligible but will have to sweat whether they get an invitation.

Curtis Cobbaverages double figure points for UMass next year — I haven’t quite figured out how the Minutemen’s new pieces will fit into the rotation next year, but Cobb is going to play and he’s going to score a whole bunch of points.

Gary Sanchez hits more HRs than Aaron Judge – Judge will still hit a lot. Sanchez will hit more.

Patriots will draft at quarterback early – Obviously nobody thinks Brian Hoyer is a long-term answer and no matter what Tom Brady eats, he’s aging. The Pats will try to grab their next starter later in the first or early in the second. Baker Mayfield will be the most recognizable possibility, but keep people like Luke Falk and Mason Randolph in mind.

Winter Olympics flop — Has there ever been an Olympics this close with this little buzz? Most sports fans can’t name more than two or three Americans competing in South Korea.

Usually by this point we’ve been overwhelmed with promotion of the next figure skaters we’re supposed to fall in love with. Tonya Harding is getting more attention right now than any skater in PyeongChang.

The NHL players aren’t going, creating a hockey tournament with no interest. Both the NHL and international hockey are worse for it.

Josh McDaniels to the Lions, Matt Patricia to the Bears — I think both Patriots coordinators will get head coach gigs, which isn’t exactly going out on a limb. So I’m predict their landing spots. Patricia fits the identity the Bears want to have, and McDaniels would be a good match with Matt Stafford.

This is the year Jon Gruden comes back — He could be the Raiders coach before the Patriots play again.

Donald Trump will end the practice of teams visiting the White House after a championship — I think the fact that players continue to skip the event and use the opportunity to attack him publicly will cause him to announce he’s not going to do it any more. I’m not certain it will happen in 2018, could be 2019, but it’s coming.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage